Sweet Valley Twins #39: Jessica and the Money Mix-Up by Francine Pascal

by Wing 29 January 2018

Title: Jessica and the Money Mix-Up by Francine Pascal

Summary: A matter of trust…

When Jessica Wakefield’s father asks her to run an errand for him, she jumps at the chance. It’s the perfect opportunity to prove to her dad that she can be trusted. All she has to do is deliver an envelope of money for a charity to Mr. Hopper, who lives three blocks away.

What could possibly go wrong? Jessica doesn’t know that she’s about to be sidetracked by Sweet Valley Middle School’s biggest gossip. Or that, when she hides the money to deliver it later, her hiding place will disappear! Jessica’s only hope is to find the money—fast. With Elizabeth’s help, she’ll search all over Sweet Valley. But will the twins find it before their father discovers the money is gone?

Tagline: Jessica is in the biggest trouble of her life!

Initial Thoughts

I … am not looking forward to this book. It might have been a bad idea to start recapping the Baby-Sitters Club books, which I love so much, while recapping Sweet Valley. Similar character age, similar target audience, and yet, I love the hell out of those books and spend a great deal of time hating these.

On the other hand, this is the fourth SVT book I’ve read this week (the last week of December, as I write this), so maybe I’ve just overwhelmed my ability to deal.

[Dove: No, you’re not wrong. I know this is the first Michael Grant/Katherine Applegate book, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. As you can see from our Q&A session with him, he wasn’t delighted by this outline. But I promise it does get better.]

READ AT SWEET VALLEY ONLINE

Sweet Valley Twins Podcast Episode 16: The War Between The Twins

by Raven 26 January 2018

Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins 37: The War Between the Twins. They also discuss Bleak Valley and how the book ties into this theory.

Music is provided by Stuart Taylor, who can be contacted on taylorstuart602@gmail.com if you wish to commission music.

You can read our recaps at Sweet Valley Online, tumblr or visit us at Facebook or Twitter (follow @SweetValley_)

Category: Sweet Valley

Goosebumps Series 2000 #17: The Werewolf In The Living Room by R.L. Stine

by jude 25 January 2018

cover of Werewolf in the Living Room by R L Stine

Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #17 – The Werewolf in the Living Room, a.k.a. “Are You There God? It’s Me, Aaron”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus [Wing: That is one of the creepier werewolves I’ve seen in cover art, and that includes on adult horror novels.]

Tagline: Home sweet horror.

Summary:

The creature had the face of a wolf. And the back and chest of a man.

He stared at me with those black, gleaming eyes. He curled back his thick lips. I stared in horror at long, curved fangs.

Then – before I could run – the werewolf leaned back on his haunches.

Raised his head in a fierce howl.

And sank his fangs deep into my skin.

Initial Thoughts

Surprise, Wing! It’s your favorite thing! WEREWOLVES. I know you mentioned reading “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp,” but I decided to go with one of the books you were less likely to have read before. At least, I hope so. [Wing: Good call! I’ve never read this one before, and I am so, so excited about it.]

The Goosebumps 2000 books were Scholastic’s attempt to revitalize the series for the new century, even though they were published three years before the actual millennium. [Wing: … strange.] The books definitely have a tone and feel independent of the original series, but overall were a bit disappointing compared to the first 62 books. They were more heavy on stuff like blood and vomit, and many of them were broken into separate parts. They got two Slappy books, an official sequel to “One Day at Horrorland,” and a spiritual sequel to “Ghost Camp.” Two books, “Bride of the Living Dummy” and “Cry of the Cat” were adapted into TV episodes, and “Invasion of the Body Squeezers” got a follow up under the “Give Yourself Goosebumps” line. The last book in the series, “The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader,” was cancelled before it got released, and R.L. Stine re-purposed the script for a separate book. Thankfully, Tim Jacobus sent the Goosebumps wiki the unused but completed cover art.

The 2000 books as a whole have largely been ignored following the revitalization of the franchise, with one or two exceptions. The Body Squeezers, the Haunted Car, and the Graveyard Ghouls were featured in the movie, so the books including the latter two got reprinted in the “Classic Goosebumps” line. Meanwhile, “Creature Teacher” got a sequel in “Goosebumps Most Wanted.”

So why did I choose this for you, Wing? First off, admittedly, it’s a seasonal thing. One winter a couple of years ago I began acquiring more entries in the 2000 line, this one, “Full Moon Fever,” “The Haunted Car,” “Horrors of the Black Ring,” and it sort of, I dunno, I get comfortable reading them during the last week of December and the earlier weeks of January. Beyond that, well, before you walk into this unwarned, there’s plenty of talk about how one of the characters is crazy. I know you won’t like that, but I really think you’re gonna love the implications of the ending.

[Wing: We will see. I am damn excited about the werewolves, though. I’ve never read any of the Series 2000 books.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

 

Molly Book #1: Meet Molly, An American Girl by Valerie Tripp

by jude 24 January 2018

Title: Meet Molly a.k.a. “You Know Who Else Played Pranks? HITLER!”

Author: Valerie Tripp

Illustrator: Nick Backes

Summary: FOR MOLLY MCINTIRE, life seems full of changes. It’s 1944 and the world is at war. Her father is far away caring for wounded soldiers. Her mother is busy working for the Red Cross. Mrs. Gilford, the strict housekeeper, makes her eat terrible things like turnips from the Victory garden. And everyone in America is so serious and practical that glamorous Halloween costumes are hard to get. Molly’s special hula skirt is a huge success – until Ricky, her pesty big brother, plays a mean trick. Molly and her friends are determined to get back at him. One mean trick leads to another until the fighting goes too far.

Initial Thoughts

I am really thankful I didn’t give these books away like I had planned.

When I was a kid I was a big fan of historical fiction books, mainly the “Dear America” series and the “American Girl” books. My interest in the genre started thanks to the cartoon “Histeria” which sparked an interest in Henry VIII and his many wives. I still have a box full of my old “Dear America” and “Royal Diaries” editions in the attic closet.

With the “American Girl” series, my focus gravitated towards the Molly books because they took place during WWII. I’m not as much of a buff as I’d like to admit, but I do enjoy 40s era movies. One year for Christmas I got the (at the time) complete “Molly” set of books. I’ve offered to do bimonthly reviews of all six in the set this year, with a bonus Molly story for October and a different “American Girl” book I still own for December.

Y’know, there’s always been one thing about this sub-series that stuck with me for so many years. I only remember a few bits from the Molly movie they made. Mainly, the housekeeper, Mrs. Gilford, was made younger and given a son named Johnny who was fighting overseas. Mrs. Gilford started watching Molly and her siblings when Mrs. McIntire began working, but she wasn’t their official housekeeper before the war began. It took some time for Molly to get used to Mrs. Gilford’s presence, and she even expressed annoyance about how much Mrs. Gilford gushed about her son on her first day. Time passed and Molly became accustomed to the housekeeper’s presence, and then one day she came home and found her mom back from work early. Mrs. McIntire said she was baking a casserole. Earlier in the film, Molly’s sister Jill mentioned bringing a casserole to a neighbor who had a relative that died in the war. Molly immediately realized why Mrs. Gilford wasn’t there…

As cheesy as this will sound, I still tear up thinking about when Molly brought the food to Mrs. Gilford’s home, and the older woman broke down in tears and hugged the girl. The way Molly spoke “Not Johnny” when she realized what happened was sad on two levels: she was sad for Mrs. Gilford, and sad for Johnny separately instead of only feeling bad because he was Mrs. Gilford’s child.

[Wing: Ah, American Girls. I have such a nostalgia for them even though I never owned the books, much less the dolls. (In case you’re not familiar with them, the American Girl dolls are detailed and fancy and really fucking expensive; there’s no way we could have afforded them). I did pour over the catalog looking at all the fun little accessories that came with the dolls, and I skimmed some books at the library, though never any of the Molly books. I have concerns already over that hula skirt costume in the summary.]

… continue reading Molly Book #1: Meet Molly, An American Girl by Valerie Tripp

Dungeons & Dragons #1: The Night of No Tomorrow

by Raven 24 January 2018

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 1Title: The Night of No Tomorrow

Summary: Tricked by Venger, Presto conjures up a horde of fire-breathing dragons to threaten the town of Helix. The kids must rescue Presto and save Helix before it is too late.

Initial Thoughts:

Looks like it’s all kicking off big tie for our plucky heroes. Will they all survive?

I bloody hope so. It’s episode one of twenty-seven. It’d be rather shit if the remaining twenty-six episodes were nothing but twenty-minute montages of Venger dancing on six adolescent graves.

[Dove: That would be epic.] [Wing: I’d watch it. Also, that cover is AMAZING.]

… continue reading Dungeons & Dragons #1: The Night of No Tomorrow

Sweet Valley Twins Podcast Episode 15: Mary Is Missing

by Raven 19 January 2018

Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins 36: Mary Is Missing. They also discuss Bleak Valley and how the book ties into this theory.

Music is provided by Stuart Taylor, who can be contacted on taylorstuart602@gmail.com if you wish to commission music.

You can read our recaps at Sweet Valley Online, tumblr or visit us at Facebook or Twitter (follow @SweetValley_)

[Raven: Hello! This is the first of the now-WEEKLY podcasts, published each Friday. Each will be around 45 minutes to an hour long, and each will tackle a single book (plus Bleak Valley and the usual digressions). There will be one published each week until the podcasts ‘catch up’ with the recaps on 26th Feb. From then on, there’ll be the recap each Monday and the corresponding podcast each Friday. From that point, it’ll be recap / podcast for three weeks in each calendar month, with a ‘fallow week’ in which we’re planning other fun Nostalgic Media content. Enjoy the podcast, and watch this space!]

Category: Sweet Valley

Secret #1 – The Secret Island

by Dove 17 January 2018
The Secret Island by Enid Blyton

The Secret Island by Enid Blyton

Title: The Secret Island (Secret #1)

Summary: Four runaways, Mike, Peggy, Nora and Jack, find a secret hiding place – a deserted island on a lovely lake. They build a willow-tree house, make their beds of heather and bracken, and grow their own vegetables. And Jack even manages to bring his cow, Daisy, and some hens to the island for fresh milk and eggs every day! But one day invaders come to the secret island…

Initial Thoughts:

This is my favourite Blyton of all time. I’m not sure what’s so special about it, since it’s Blyton’s standard fare of “some kids and some animals live parent-free for a bit, and really enjoy lettuce”. Maybe it’s the lack of smugglers that makes this so special. Kind of like when fandom quite enjoyed Lost, because it was a bunch of people on a desert island, just trying to get along, before the writers jumped on the wacky bus and stuck two fingers up a plotting, pacing and structure.

Also, I’ve never managed to get past the first few paragraphs of any of the sequels.

[Wing: This is my first Blyton experience, and it is adorable. I grew up reading things like Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson and My Side of the Mountain and Black Stallion and the Little House books and Baby Island, which were all about people surviving on their own in the wilderness, at least for awhile. I love stories like that, and this was an utter delight along that vein.]

[Raven: I’ve read a lot of Blyton. Never read this before. Huh.]

… continue reading Secret #1 – The Secret Island

The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike

by Wing 15 January 2018

Cover of The Last Vampire by Christopher PikeTitle: The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike

Summary: Alisa Perne is the last vampire. Beautiful and brilliant, she hunts alone, living among humans, living off humans. But someone is stalking her. Someone wants her dead. And Alisa has a choice to make – to keep a long held promise or protect the mortal she seems to be falling for.

Tagline: This time someone is hunting her…

Initial Thoughts

Oh god, here we go. Five years into recapping on Devil’s Elbow, and I’m finally spending an entire year focused on my favourite of the 80s and 90s teen horror authors, Christopher Pike. I’m saving my absolutely favourite books for the end of the year, but first, I’m taking on The Last Vampire series, which is significantly longer now than the first time I read it.

Note: There’s a lot of religion throughout this, particularly centered around Krishna and Vishnu. I do some basic research as I read, but I have very little knowledge here. My guess is that Pike’s taking a ton of liberties. I think that reading this as an adult, it’s going to smack of cultural appropriation, so keep that in mind when you read the book and this recap.

I loved this series growing up, especially the first book, but oh my god, does it get weird. So weird. Complicated and twisty and fun, but weird.

Though I’ve reread a lot of my Pike books often, this is not a series I read more than the first couple books obsessively, so I’m excited to go through the entire thing again.

2018: The Year of Christopher Pike. Let’s do this.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Sweet Valley Twins #38: Lois Strikes Back

by Raven 15 January 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 38: Lois Strikes Back by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 38: Lois Strikes Back by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Lois Strikes Back

Tagline: Has Bruce gone too far?

Summary: Winner takes all…

Lois Waller has always been too shy about being overweight to join in school activities. When the Sweet Valley PTA decides to have a bike-a-thon, Lois finds the courage to take part. It’s a chance for her to win a brand-new mountain bike—and it’s the perfect opportunity to put snobby Bruce Patman in his place.

Everyone at Sweet Valley Middle School knows how much Bruce bullies Lois. Although Jessica Wakefield thinks that anything Bruce does is perfect, her twin sister Elizabeth disagrees and is on Lois’s side. Elizabeth thinks Lois has a good shot at winning. But she doesn’t know how far Bruce Patman will go to see Lois lose!

 

READ AT SWEET VALLEY.ONLINE

Sweet Valley Twins: Podcast Round-Up

by Raven 12 January 2018

[Raven: We’ve been catching up on the podcasts-in-waiting over at Sweet Valley Online, and below we have episodes 13 and 14… Going forward, there will be a weekly podcast chronicling our recapping efforts and furiously mocking the tribulations of out favourite twinny bellends. Episode 15 will publish at 8AM UK time on Friday 19th January. Until then!]

Episode 13: A Great-Looking Sweater

Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins 34: Jessica the Rock Star; 35: Amy’s Pen Pal; and Super Chiller 1: The Christmas Ghost. They also discuss Bleak Valley and how these books tie into this theory.

Episode 14: A Year In Review

Wing, Raven and Dove look back at the highs, lows and ithigs from a tumultuous year of recapping at Sweet Valley Online.

Music is provided by Stuart Taylor, who can be contacted on taylorstuart602@gmail.com if you wish to commission music.

You can read our recaps at Sweet Valley Online, tumblr or visit us at Facebook or Twitter (follow @SweetValley_)

Category: Sweet Valley